It’s been on my wish list to purchase a MasterClass All Access Pass for a long time. I mean, come on, the amount of courses they offer for writers is amazing! Margaret Atwood, James Patterson, David Mamet, R.L. Stine, Dan Brown, Malcolm Gladwell, and of course … the one and only Judy Blume? So worth the $180.00 to me … and yet, I hesitated to make the purchase.
Then in December, I saw how Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass would be available in early 2019. What??? Hesitation gone, SOLD! Considering the average cost for a one-day writing conference can be around $150.00, this is a great price for what you’re getting. Plus there are many classes under the Film & TV category that could be wonderful for writers, such as ones by Ron Howard, Shonda Rhimes, Steve Martin, etc.
So my Christmas present to myself was an All-Access pass, one that I shared with a friend thanks to a great Buy One, Gift One deal. Afterward, I made a goal to take all writing courses, some of the TV/Film lessons … and maybe one by Gordon Ramsy by the end of the year. (It would be cool learning how to make a soufflé!) However, it’s now July. Yikes. And they’ve added mystery/thriller author, David Baldacci to the roster, so I need to make this a priority!
Next question was … which to take first?
Since I am re-starting my career and writing journey, (for the fiftieth time but who’s counting??) I went with Judy Blume.
Before getting into detail, though, here’s a quick story Judy Blume story.
Back in 2007, I was set to sign copies of Beauty Shop for Rent in the Harcourt booth at the ALA Annual Convention in D.C. When I had arrived for my hour-long time slot, I noticed a long line that had looped all the way around from the aisle next to mine and to the end. Any guesses for who?
Yep. The one and only Judy Blume.
Love her, love her books, but WOW. I was in for a painful, awkward hour where I sat alone, elbows on the table, thumbs twirling and smile plastered on my face as her many fans slowly passed in front of me, most of whom avoided eye contact out of guilt. Had this event been the Book Expo America where books were given away for free, all my books would have been taken sheerly out of sympathy alone. But for ALA, hardback copies cost $10.00 and while there were many who did purchase a copy, it was one of the longest hours of my life!
Still. Judy Blume. Can’t blame them a bit and I, myself, also wanted to be in that line! She is a lovely woman and a brilliant writer whose books helped me in so many ways back when I was a kid, especially Blubber.
Her MasterClasses were just as lovely and met every one of my expectations. What a kind, compassionate, insightful woman! Her lessons felt like keynote speeches … wonderful, encouraging keynote speeches that fire up conference attendees and fill them with a desire to write. She also offered several solid craft tips on topics such as character development, plot twists, flashbacks, and dialogue plus she shared stories about her own rejection and setbacks.
Listening to her describe the research and writing process for In the Unlikely Event also motivated me to read the book, which is fantastic so far. There was also one class in particular … ugh, I wish I wrote down which one! But in it, she chatted about keeping a notebook on you at all times, a place to jot down thoughts and ideas and notes.
I used to do this, but in the past couple of years, I’ve been keeping all my notes in a Scrivener file, which means I could only write/take notes on my big old 15″ HP. Then in April, I decided to write my current manuscript and keep notes using Google Docs on my iPad and keyboard. (Loving Google Docs, by the way, but that’s a post for a different day!)
Anyway, per Judy Blume’s suggestion, I dug out an unused notepad with a pretty floral cover and designated that to keep writing notes.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Something weird happened … I instantly felt an intimate connection to my story and the more I jotted down oddball thoughts, the more the floodgates to open. It truly was amazing and made my writing sessions that week seem magical!
Now, I know what you might be thinking. This is what you got from a class that would cost $80.00 on its own, using a notebook??? That’s just it, though. Whenever you take a class or read a book about craft or attend a writing conference, some advice might be things you’ve already heard a thousand times. But there are often little nuggets that penetrate deep in your soul, sparking inspiration and giving new directions.
For example, at one SCBWI conference, I attended a break-away class on plotting. Now, I know plotting. I, myself, have given classes on plotting, so much of what the instructor said were things I’ve heard before. But she added something new … or maybe just said something old in a new way … that sparked something deep inside and helped me figure out an issue I was having with my current manuscript, a book that later sold. So whatever I had spent for that conference just paid for itself in that one moment.
And at the end of Judy Blume’s closing session, she said something that absolutely brought tears to my eyes:
The best thing for you to do right now is to start writing or get back to what you were writing. Don’t think about it too much, don’t overanalyze it. Just let it happen. Just sit down, start doing it, and good luck.
So okay, I got back to writing!
My overall thoughts:
- Grade: A!
- Lessons: 24
- Resources: A class workbook PDF that follows along with her lessons and offers assignments, some of which can be shared in The Hub, (MasterClass community,) for feedback and to learn about your fellow writers.
- Who’s it good for: Beginning writers or experienced writers who have lost their way, (hello, that’d be me,) and are getting back into writing!
Next up for me, Neil Gaiman!
And if you’re thinking about signing up for MasterClass, here’s a referral link for $30.00 off! I’d also receive a $30.00 Amazon gift card, which I’d be so grateful for!
Take care, thanks for reading, and happy writing!